It is no secret that data breaches are expensive. According to an IBM data breach report, the average cost of a breach sits at 3.86 million dollars. Moreover, it took an average of 280 days for a breach to be identified and contained.
The state of secure access is a bit lacking for many companies these days. This is a big reason why breaches can be so devastating.
Whether a breach is detected quickly or not, it can cripple an enterprise for a long time. This is why secure access is such an essential concept in our digital age. Breach detection implies setting up and maintaining a comprehensive secure access service.
Given that attacks on enterprise resources have been increasing since earlier this year, such a service is the foundational block for incident response that allows enterprises to reduce time to detection and improve the ability to mitigate devices under attack
The Basics of Secure Access
Secure access, in its most basic sense, is the ability of authorised users to access an element of your network or application without allowing unauthorised users (hackers) that same access. While almost no system can be completely secure, there are basic best practices that can significantly improve a network/application's security.
A user should only be able to access data you want them to access. Maintaining secure access is mainly about figuring out what a user needs for the experience you want them to have (as a customer, employee, etc.) and then giving them only what they need to have that experience.
This isn't as easy to achieve as it might seem. Hackers can be exceptionally talented, they are willing to subvert the law, and the reality is that most organisations are ill-equipped to protect their data. Even tiny security errors can give hackers what they need to cause a data breach.
Security Giants and the State of Secure Access
Even security experts are not entirely in agreement on the best practices for keeping a network secure. For example, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) suggests an organisation be capable of doing the following to keep their network secure:
- Allow only users and devices the network can adequately inspect and verify access into the network
- Keep access minimal; a user should have only the access they need to accomplish what an organisation wants them to be able to do
- Keep control and data planes separate
- Terminate user/device connection if a policy breach is detected
- Gather data on users to identify suspicious practices quickly (more efficiently allowing for the above)
- Avoid basic security and exploit risks, such as open network access and otherwise increasing your network's attack surface
- Practice MTLS/SPA
CSA also recommends ensuring you have per-app access control. This means that a high level of access in one area of your network, therefore, cannot bleed into a high level of access in another, presumably more important, location of your network.
Gartner, a corporate giant that holds security and risk management summits, maintains a set of best practices that are undoubtedly similar but notably different in their focus:
- Avoid VPN and DMZ-based accesses when possible
- Eliminate the distinction between a user/device being on and off the corporate network
- Unless a carrier or cloud provider is absolutely trusted, ensure encryption is carried to the endpoint
- Keep access for IT contractors and remote employees app-specific
- If an application is of high value or otherwise critical, isolate it in the network to resist insider attack
- Avoid blanket administrative access for reasons similar to the above
Gartner's suggestions are aimed at both improving security and simplifying Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) business models (which can be notoriously tricky in terms of maintaining security).
The Zero Trust Model
Both the CSA and Gartner's sets of best practices are essentially two different takes on what is usually called the Zero Trust model or the Zero Trust Secure Access model.
At its core, this is a model that accepts any unverified access to an application represents a significant security risk. Every user is required to sign-on and authenticate themselves.
One aspect of the model that is overlooked by those not in the tech or security industries is device verification and validation. Users alone aren't the only threat to security; devices must be checked to verify they are free of malware and have proper security measures installed.
It is important to remember that modern security needs to accept practically every user is a potential threat. Not only can hackers pretend to be employees (or be employees), but often well-meaning employees can be risks too. An employee who is not tech-savvy can quickly bring with their computer use a host of viruses and other threats if not monitored in some way.
Unless your organisation contains security experts, it can be challenging to adopt the Zero Trust model without outside assistance or new hires. Even most modern IT professionals will be ill-equipped for what is often a significant overhaul.
Luckily you can hire industry professionals to help get your organisation secure in the modern digital age. We at Oxortis bring you expertise in updating security, onboarding users, and otherwise making this transition as easy as can be.
Zero Trust Secure Access Keeps Data Safe
The trap so many companies and organisations fall into is believing a data breach is some invented threat. It is the sort of danger we hear about on the news but never happens to us.
Thinking in this way greatly weakens your company's security and makes you a more alluring target. Complacency means you're much more likely to be attacked than those who take the time to actually secure themselves!
Breaches are incredibly expensive and time-consuming. They can draw your organisation into long-lasting legal battles, which is all mostly preventable.
Adopting a Zero Trust Secure Access model brings an organisation up to standards real security experts follow. It prevents hackers and user error from easily breaching your data and can also vastly mitigate damage in the event a breach occurs.
If you're interested in adopting such a model, contact us at Oxortis. We would love to hear from you.